Children of the Abyss: A Guide to Feral & Variant Tieflings (Plus Bloodlines)

Tieflings are one of the most popular races to play in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, and Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide introduced the Feral Trait for Tieflings that would later become the Feral Tiefling race.

But what makes the Feral and Variant Tiefling different from the original Tieflings? Read on and find out!

Classic Tieflings: What We Know

Tieflings are the children of average mortals who are corrupted with Infernal bloodlines.

In some cases, these children may be the illegitimate sons and daughters of archdemons like Mammon and Asmodeus. In other cases, they may result from a curse or deal made with a demon.

The mechanical traits assigned to Tieflings are as follows:

Tieflings share certain racial traits as a result of their Infernal descent.

Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1, and your Charisma score increases by 2.

Age: Tieflings mature at the same rate as humans but live a few years longer.

Size: Tieflings are about the same size and build as humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision: Thanks to your Infernal heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Hellish Resistance: You have resistance to fire damage.

Infernal Legacy: You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Hellish Rebuke spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the darkness spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Infernal.

Variant Tiefling: Who Are They and What Makes Them Different?

The Variant Tiefling is a subrace of Tieflings and Feral Tieflings intended to account for the morphological differences that would occur due to non-shared Infernal heritage.

The original Tiefling race was written to be the sons and daughters of Asmodeus, but there’s no reason for Tieflings to be limited to Asmodeus’ bloodline.

Tieflings of other Infernal bloodlines may have morphological differences that set them apart, just as their demon brethren do. Variant Tieflings may display horns that look different from the Asmodeus Tieflings.

Since they have different physical traits, it’s only natural that their racial characteristics be amended to suit their physical differences.

The Variant Tiefling traits are as follows:

Since not all tieflings are of the blood of Asmodeus, some have traits that differ from those in the Player’s Handbook.

The Dungeon Master may permit the following variants for your tiefling character, although Devil’s Tongue, Hellfire, and Winged are mutually exclusive.

Appearance

Your tiefling might not look like other tieflings.

Rather than having the physical characteristics described in the Player’s Handbook, choose 1d4 + 1 of the following features:

  • Small horns
  • Fangs or sharp teeth
  • A forked tongue
  • Catlike eyes
  • Six fingers on each hand
  • Goat-like legs
  • Cloven hoofs
  • A forked tail
  • Leathery or scaly skin
  • Red or dark blue skin
  • Cast no shadow or reflection
  • Exude a smell of brimstone

Devil’s Tongue

You know the Vicious Mockery cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Charm Person spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Enthrall spell once with this trait. You must finish a long rest to cast these spells once again with this trait.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for them. This trait replaces the Infernal Legacy trait.

Hellfire

Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Burning Hands spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. This trait replaces the Hellish Rebuke spell of the Infernal Legacy trait.

Winged

 You have bat-like wings sprouting from your shoulder blades. You have a flying speed of 30 feet while you aren’t wearing heavy armor. This trait replaces the Infernal Legacy trait.

Feral Tieflings: Who Are They and What Makes Them Different?

Feral Tieflings were first introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

In this sourcebook, Feral was a trait that could be given to Tieflings much like the Variant Tiefling option. However, it was later transformed into its own standalone race with its own Variant option.

Feral Tieflings are ones who were not introduced to the finer points of mortal society.

Perhaps they were abandoned by their parents as children (as many Tieflings are), or maybe they were cast out from their community when they started to show signs of Infernal heritage.

Regardless of the original reasoning, these Tieflings were so removed from mortal society because of their heritage that they lack the social graces that come with a position in a mortal society.

As a result, they’re liable to take the Tiefling’s desire for independence to the extreme as they’ve been burned by their ties to other mortals before.

The racial traits of Feral Tieflings are as follows:

Tieflings share certain racial traits as a result of their infernal descent.

Ability Score Increase

Your Intelligence score increases by 1, and your Dexterity score increases by 2.

One of the first differences between Feral Tieflings and Classic Tieflings is that Feral Tieflings have a +2 to Dexterity rather than Charisma. They share the +1 Intelligence score with Classic Tieflings.

Age

Tieflings mature at the same rate as humans but live a few years longer.

Age is, as it always is, a very straightforward trait; Feral Tieflings age at the same rate as humans but live longer.

Alignment

Tieflings might not have an innate tendency toward evil, but many of them end up there. Evil or not, an independent nature inclines many tieflings toward a chaotic alignment.

Tieflings tend to be very independent because their heritage means they’re likely to grow up without the support systems and safety nets the rest of us take for granted. 

This lack of support is also responsible for the Tiefling trend toward evil; Tieflings often turn to crime and other evil to put food on the table and roof over their heads without the support from parents that community mortals get.

Size

Tieflings are about the same size and build as humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed

Your base walking speed is 30 feet. Tieflings have the same base walking speed as humans.

Darkvision

Thanks to your infernal heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light.

You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Like many races, Tieflings are blessed with Darkvision. This allows them to see in dim light as bright light and darkness as if it were dim light. They can’t perceive colour in darkness, though.

Hellish Resistance

You have resistance to fire damage.

Hellish Resistance is another relatively straightforward trait. When taking fire damage, Tieflings take half damage.

Infernal Legacy

You know the Thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the hellish rebuke spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Darkness spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Infernal Legacy is what makes Tieflings … Tieflings. Without the Infernal Legacy trait, a character is just an average mortal with no demonic heritage. This trait is the bread and butter of the Tiefling race. 

Infernal Legacy is intended to be modelled after the demon Asmodeus, but Legacies for Baalzebul, Dispater, Fierna, Glasya, Levistus, Mammon, Mephistopheles, and Zariel are also available in the Player’s Handbook (5e).

These Legacies can be substituted for Infernal Legacy , and their traits will overwrite that of Infernal Legacy if chosen.

Languages

You can speak, read, and write Common and Infernal.

Languages spoken are another relatively straightforward trait. You can speak Common and Infernal fluently because of your heritage.

As we mentioned, Feral Tieflings have a unique variant system. Variant Feral Tieflings have the same traits as Variant Tieflings but are applied to the Feral Tiefling framework rather than the Classic Tiefling. 

Variant Feral Tieflings have the following racial traits:

Devil’s Tongue 

You know the vicious mockery cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Charm Person spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Enthrall spell once with this trait.

You must finish a long rest to cast these spells once again with this trait. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for them. This trait replaces the Infernal Legacy trait.

Devil’s Tongue replaces the Infernal Legacy trait when taking the Variant Feral Tiefling framework.

This changes the spells that you get access to through the trait and allows you to have the Vicious Mockery cantrip as well as the Charm Person and Enthrall spells at higher levels.

Like the Infernal Legacy trait, Devil’s Tongue spells use Charisma as their casting ability.

Hellfire 

Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Burning Hands spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. This trait replaces the Hellish Rebuke spell of the Infernal Legacy trait.

The Hellfire trait modifies the Hellish Rebuke portion of the Infernal Legacy trait and instead allows the player to cast Burning Hands with their racial trait.

Winged 

You have bat-like wings sprouting from your shoulder blades. You have a flying speed of 30 feet while you aren’t wearing heavy armor. This trait replaces the Infernal Legacy trait. 

The Winged trait will replace your Infernal Legacy trait and instead give you access to wings. These wings are powerful enough to pick you up off the ground and grant you the power of flight if you aren’t wearing any heavy armour.

What Other Options for Infernal Legacy Are There?

Baalzebul Tiefling

The crumbling realm of Maladomini is ruled by Baalzebul, who excels at corrupting those whose minor sins can be transformed into acts of damnation.

Tieflings linked to this archdevil can corrupt others both physically and psychically.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Legacy of Maladomini

You know the Thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Ray of Sickness spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Crown of Madness spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Dispater Tiefling

The great city of Dis occupies most of Hell’s second layer. It is a place where secrets are uncovered and shared with the highest bidder, making tieflings tied to Dispater excellent spies and infiltrators.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Legacy of Dis

You know the Thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Disguise Self spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Detect Thoughts spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Fierna Tiefling

A master manipulator, Fierna grants tieflings tied to her forceful personalities.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Legacy of Phlegethos

You know the Friends cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Charm Person spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Suggestion spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Glasya Tiefling

Glasya, Hell’s criminal mastermind, grants her tieflings magic that is useful for committing heists.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Legacy of Malbolge

You know the Minor Illusion cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Disguise Self spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Invisibility spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Levistus Tiefling

Frozen Stygia is ruled by Levistus, an archdevil known for offering bargains to those who face an inescapable doom.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.

Legacy of Stygia

You know the Ray of Frost cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Armor of Agathys spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Darkness spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Mammon Tiefling

The great miser Mammon loves coins above all else. Tieflings tied to him excel at gathering and safeguarding wealth.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Legacy of Minauros

You know the Mage Hand cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Tenser’s Floating Disk spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a short or long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Arcane Lock spell once with this trait, requiring no material component, and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Mephistopheles Tiefling

In the frozen realm of Cania, Mephistopheles offers arcane power to those who entreat with him. Tieflings linked to him master some arcane magic.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Legacy of Cania

You know the Mage Hand cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Burning Hands spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Flame Blade spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Zariel Tiefling

Tieflings with a blood tie to Zariel are stronger than the typical tiefling and receive magical abilities that aid them in battle.

Ability Score Increase

Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 1.

Legacy of Avernus

You know the Thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Searing Smite spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Branding Smite spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

The different Infernal Legacy options for Tieflings changes how the Tiefling interacts with their world. Their Ability Scores will be different, as will the spells they receive from their Infernal Legacy trait.

Tiefling Roleplay

Roleplaying as a Tiefling is roughly the same as roleplaying as the most hated person in your town.

Tieflings don’t have a set culture because they’re generally born to mortal parents who either didn’t expect to have a Tiefling child or are ashamed of their Tiefling child.

Their names will generally reflect the mortal race that they’re from (Human, Elvish, etc.), and if they were raised in the community they were born in, their cultural norms will reflect that.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to races in D&D 5e, few offer as much customization as the Tiefling, and perhaps the Tiefling owes its popularity to that.

Understanding how to customize a character and what that customization affects can help you better serve your players as a Dungeon Master and help you be a better player for your Dungeon Master.

As always, the most important thing is that you and your table are having fun. So don’t be afraid to homebrew or make house rules that better suit your party and allow them to engage with the game freely!